For Microsoft, the ‘Windows-First’ Era is Over

The era of Windows is over.

Actually, that’s not entirely true: Windows continues to run on hundreds of millions of desktops and laptops around the world. Everyone from gamers to business owners depend on it as a platform for apps and the Web. And Microsoft continues to draw a significant portion of its revenue from the operating system.

However, Microsoft has signaled a new era that’s far less Windows-dependent. In an email to Microsoft employees last week (which the company then published online), Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the company would effectively double down on the cloud and the “intelligent edge” (i.e., the integration of A.I. and machine learning into products), while dividing the responsibility for maintaining Windows among various business units. Longtime executive Terry Myerson, who oversaw Windows, is leaving Microsoft.

In essence, Windows software and hardware will become units among many, in stark contrast to the “Windows first” strategy pursued under Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Nadella’s predecessor Steve Ballmer. Nadella’s reorganization is a reflection of some broader realities: Microsoft failed to make much of a dent in mobile (despite devoting tons of resources to Windows Phone) even as mobile has become the primary computing platform for hundreds of millions of people worldwide. At the same time, subscription-based services and apps have evolved into major revenue drivers for companies. Depending on regular Windows releases to power the bottom line just doesn’t seem as viable as it did ten years ago; now the emphasis is on getting millions of users to shell out a relatively small amount of money every month for cloud-based products.

That doesn’t mean Windows is going away; and for Microsoft-centric developers, the market for Windows-based apps will likely to continue far into the future (although it seems unlikely that the company will take a run at another dedicated mobile OS anytime soon). For those tech pros who have made significant investments in Microsoft’s cloud-based platforms, especially anything Azure-related, these corporate changes may even come as good news: the company isn’t likely to abandon support and updates for its cloud anytime soon, and may even accelerate the release of developer tools.

In fact, if you’re a Microsoft-centric developer, now’s a great time to familiarize yourself with the company’s developer-facing efforts in A.I. and machine learning. That’s clearly where the company sees the future—which means that’s where it’s going to push its resources for tech pros. As more businesses embrace A.I. as a part of their strategies, A.I. knowledge will only grow in importance.

6 Responses to “For Microsoft, the ‘Windows-First’ Era is Over”

  1. No, Windows OS is going away. I’m going to have to roll back the mess that is Windows 10 on my parent’s computer because it’s so buggy and hogging system resources. The rest of the PCs in the house have had Windows trashed and replaced in favor of Linux. There are so many useful distributions of Linux that anyone can find the best fit for them.

    If I have to get another laptop Windows will be trashed first for Linux. I’m tired of messing with their bloated Spyware that can’t run anything without crashing, dealing with foreign ESL “support” where nothing gets resolved, and going to their useless forum just to read how angry and fed up users are with Windows and Microsoft’s complete lack of customer service.

    Bill Gates and his ilk are some of the worst con men to go down in history period.

    • Well-said, and I sympathize. And I have also read some of the forums over at Microsoft. Tell me, do you have an opinion on Linux’s systemd? I’ve read a lot of pro and con in forums about it.

    • Wow, I have used Windows my entire life and never called support. Windows 10 is the best Windows OS since Windows 7. I admit that I’m not a fan of having updates forced to my system but I haven’t had any problems with Windows 10. Now, I have had problems with crappy hardware but that’s another story.

  2. George

    Bill Gates is the greatest genius that ever existed. A marketing genius that is, who became the richest man with the worst possible operating system and software ever. Mediocre, crashing software hobbled and slowed the world’s computers for decades. Yet like Lex Luthor, he built an empire of riches based on the incredible marketing trick to have the world depend most on the worst technical products. He delayed world progress more than any other product that ever existed. He created dependence through crashes, emergencies, inability to deal with viruses, etc., exquisitely timed to ensure and enhance dependence through implied and real threats.